Did You Want to See My Belly Button? I Didn’t Think So

Podcast available at: https://anchor.fm/diane-simcox/episodes/Did-You-Want-to-See-My-Belly-Button–I-Didnt-Think-So-e1cp125

Romans 14

If I were to ask you to show me your belly button, how would you feel about that?  Most of us, I would presume, would be hesitant to do just that.  Why is that?  There’s nothing shameful about having a belly button.  We all have them as God intended.  There’s nothing obscene or vulgar about a belly button.  But at some point in our lives, we come to realize that showing our belly buttons to just anyone is maybe not the right thing to do.  We feel as if modesty should rule in this area and so we keep our belly buttons to ourselves.  No matter where you go, who you see, and what you see, you can be sure that each person you cross paths with will more than likely possess a belly button.  You don’t have to actually see it to know that it’s there.  What you don’t know is whether it’s an “innie” or an “outie”.  And if you spend a lot of time wondering about that, you may need to spend some time figuring out why that’s so important to you because, quite frankly, that would be weird.  Likewise, you probably are not going to discuss the type of belly button you have with other people because, again, that would be weird and also, no one should really care.  The bottom line is we all have belly buttons that are unique to each of us but don’t need to be shared with others.

I’m going to ask a few questions.  The only answers I want to hear are “yes” or “no”.  Nothing else.

  1. Do you have an opinion as to whether women should be permitted to pastor a church or not?
  2. Do you have an opinion on tithing?
  3. Do you have an opinion on making church services more contemporary than traditional?
  4. Do you have an opinion on getting the COVID vaccine and booster shots?
  5. Do you have an opinion on which translations of the Bible are acceptable and which are not?
  6. Do you have an opinion on whether Christians should drink alcohol?
  7. Do you have an opinion on immigration?
  8. Do you have an opinion on the death penalty?
  9. Do you have an opinion on whether preachers should wear a coat and tie when preaching?
  10. Do you have an opinion when it comes to wearing choir robes or not?

If I were to open up the floor for discussion on any of these, I can just imagine that we’d have some animated discussion about a good number of these topics.  Chances are, you all have an opinion on at least most of these.  Some of your opinions may be very strong and some of you may be biting your tongue right now because you are so anxious to share your thoughts. 

Some people are quick to share their opinions because they want to “help” others and they feel that their opinion is the key to solving the other’s person’s problem or issue.   Some often share their opinions simply because they feel as if they have all of the right answers.  Their ego is inflated, and they see themselves as an expert in many areas and they feel compelled to share their “wisdom”.  These people view their opinions as absolute truths and don’t allow for any discussion from others who may differ.  The thought is that they are right and if you don’t agree with them, you’re wrong.

This kind of mindset can be destructive and damaging to not only relationships but also to churches.  I love the way The Message presents this scripture.  Romans 14:1 MSG “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 “For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.”

There are topics or issues that the Bible doesn’t give us a black and white answer to and, as a result, people will form their own opinions.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit deals with us directly and we have our own personal convictions.  But that’s just it.  They are convictions that are personal to us and to us alone.  What the Holy Spirit may convict us against would not necessarily apply to everyone. 

Think back to the days of Daniel.  Daniel was a man of God.  When others became jealous of Daniel and his outstanding work, they plotted to take him down.  Daniel was a praying man.  And even when King Darius signed the order forbidding anyone to pray to God, Daniel did not stop.  But Daniel also did not try to convince the king or the others that they were wrong.  He simply continued to follow his own convictions and prayed.  As you know, he was trapped inside the lions’ den with hungry lions for punishment. But when the sun rose and Daniel emerged unscathed, King Darius made the proclamation that all should fear and respect Daniel’s God.  You see, Daniel didn’t force his convictions on others, he simply lived by them.  He didn’t share his opinion nor did he insist that others were wrong.  He didn’t take on the responsibility of telling others what they were or weren’t doing correctly. He simply lived his life as God directed and permitted God to do what only God could do.  Without saying a word, Daniel allowed God to say all that needed to be said.

People will say things such as, “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.” “What you need to do is this…” “What you should have done was that.” “OK, here’s what needs to happen.” “If you would just do what I tell you to do.”  We’ve assigned ourselves the role of being a backseat driver when God is at the wheel.   We compulsively give our opinions, our criticisms, our advice even when it’s not requested or desired.  Christians, in particular, are so anxious to take on the role of God in other’s Christians’ lives.  And most people do it with the best of intentions; assuming that their words are the truth and appropriate for anyone and any situation.  But that’s not always the case. 

One of the most difficult times in my life was when I was facing a painful and life-changing decision.  I prayed like I never had before.  I read, no, I devoured my Bible, searching and listening for God’s direction.   At the same time, I had well-meaning people that loved me dearly giving me their opinions.  Their opinions contradicted what God was telling me and I found myself confused and tormented.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 

1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV
Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

What I was hearing from God was clear;  I had no doubt about that.  But the chaos and the confusion came from the best of intentions from Christians all around me.  And truthfully, it made my situation much, much worse than it needed to be.

For us to proclaim to someone else what they should or shouldn’t do based on our own beliefs and thoughts is potentially harmful to them.  And besides, who are we to set the standards?  Who are we, with limited knowledge of all that is involved, to give our opinion when it comes from our own thoughts and principles and not God’s?

Warren W. Wiersbe says this.  “We don’t have the responsibility to decide the requirements for Christian fellowship in a church; only God can do this.  To set up human restrictions on the basis of personal prejudices (or even convictions) is to go beyond the Word of God.  Because God has received us, we must receive one another.”[i]

Human restrictions as far as what’s acceptable and what’s not. How much of a problem do you think this is?  I think it’s bigger than we realize, and I feel as if we have allowed ourselves to gradually place our opinions in concrete so that they are literally rock solid and can’t be easily cracked.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t use that concrete block to bash other people. 

Sadie Robertson Huff at Passion 2022

Sadie Robertson Huff recently spoke at Passion 2022 which is an annual conference for students and young adults in which they are empowered to live for Jesus.  Sadie’s topic was finding your purpose in God and not through social media.  It was a powerful presentation in which she expressed passion for seeking God’s approval and not the approval of others.  She spoke to these young people from her own experiences and her own struggles.  There’s no doubt that many were touched and affected in a positive way by what she had to say.  But here’s one review.  “I realize this isn’t the point, but if you knew you’d be speaking to a stadium of people, wouldn’t you first change out of the clothes you wear for eating pizza on the sofa in front of a movie?”[ii]  You see, Sadie was wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt that read “The Desire of Our Souls”.  In a stadium filled with tens of thousands of young people, do you really think Sadie was the only one dressed in ripped jeans and a sweatshirt?  Would she not have stood out more if she had been in a pantsuit looking like Joyce Meyer or perhaps a coat made of camel’s hair like John the Baptist wore? Was her message, the message that we assume God gave her, any less effective because she was wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt?  NO! And yet, someone missed the whole point of her message and criticized her for wearing what most of the others in attendance were wearing.

We need to realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion; however, our opinions should never be used as weapons to hurt, criticize, or humiliate another person.  When we are expressing our opinions about what someone is wearing, what political candidate they support, or their personal stance on current topics, and we do this just for the sake of saying what’s on our mind, we are simply extending the time we will need to stand before God and answer for our irresponsible use of words.   

Romans 14:10 ICB “10 So why do you judge your brother in Christ? And why do you think that you are better than he is? We will all stand before God, and he will judge us all. 11 Yes, it is written in the Scriptures:

“Everyone will bow before me;

    everyone will say that I am God.

As surely as I live, these things will happen, says the Lord.” Isaiah 45:23

12 So each of us will have to answer to God for what he has done.”

If you think about each time you flippantly expressed your opinion in judgment of another, does it make you cringe?  It should.  For each of us will stand before the Judgment Seat and answer for what we’ve done.  Warren W. Wiersbe says, “The judgment seat of Christ is that place where Christians will have their works judged by the Lord.  It has nothing to do with our sins, since Christ has paid for them and they can be held against us no more.”  “How does the Christian prepare for the judgment seat of Christ?  By making Jesus Lord of his life and faithfully obeying Him.  Instead of judging other Christians, we had better judge our own lives and make sure we are ready to meet Christ at the [judgment seat]. [iii]

Romans 14:13 ICB “So we should stop judging each other.”  Paul uses examples of what people were eating or not eating as well as what days were considered holy.  These were common conflicts during those times.  But he uses these two topics merely as examples.  Nowadays we don’t necessarily bicker over these two topics, but we certainly have our fair share of disagreements. 

Romans 14:19 ERV So let’s try as hard as we can to do what will bring peace. Let’s do whatever will help each other grow stronger in faith. 20 Don’t let the eating of food destroy the work of God. All food is right to eat, but it is wrong for anyone to eat something that hurts the faith of another person. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that hurts the faith of your brother or sister.

22 You should keep your beliefs about these things a secret between yourself and God. {emphasis mine}

We ought to be willing to give up voicing our opinion for the sake of unity in our relationships and in the church. But sadly many of us consider our opinions to be pearls of wisdom and jewels of knowledge rather than weapons of destruction. If we do not feel the Holy Spirit prompting us to speak what He has laid on our hearts then perhaps we should consider that He is prompting us to keep our opinions unexpressed.

Proverbs 18:2 ESV “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

In her book, “The Key to a Loving Heart”, Karen Mains includes a parable about the church entitled “The Brawling Bride”.  It tells about the most climactic moment in a wedding ceremony.  The families have been seated.  The groom and his attendants are in their places.  The minister is waiting, Bible in hand.  The bridesmaids have come down the aisle.  The organ begins the bridal march, and everyone stands.  A gasp bursts from the guests!  The bride is limping!  Her gown is ripped and covered with mud!  Bruises show on her arm!  Her nose is bloody!  One eye is purple and swollen!  Her hair is messed up!

In this parable, the groom in Christ.  “Doesn’t He deserve better than this?” the author asks.  “His bride, the Church, has been fighting again!”[iv]

May we all picture that bloodied, bruised, and injured bride before we open our mouths to voice our opinions.  If we don’t, we will answer for it one day.  Your opinions, like your belly button, should be kept to yourself.

[i] The Wiersbe Study Bible

[ii] https://pulpitandpen.org/2020/01/04/disheveled-homeless-woman-preaches-at-passion-conference/

[iii] Be Right, Warren W. Wiersbe

[iv] https://wisdomfromabove.net/tag/the-brawling-bride/

Published by Diane Simcox

Daily I am humbled at how God shows me that He is active and involved in my life. He is gracious enough to simplify every day things so that I have a better understanding of Who He is to me.

2 thoughts on “Did You Want to See My Belly Button? I Didn’t Think So

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